It was a fantastic first date. We were both soooo nervous, we laughed about that all the time through the years, yet never determined who was more nervous. It didn't matter, the charm was in both of us being wrought with butterflies. We dined at Tapas Barcelona, in Evanston, took a walk on the lakefront of Northwestern Campus (the site where we were later married in 2009), got chased away by campus police because it was after hours, had coffee at Kaffeine, (Boomer's only visit to the hip college hangout) - he did not like that place at all.
When we pulled up to my condo building at end of the evening we began a conversation about we felt about work, gossip, and for him specifically, our age difference. He was very concerned about it. Boomer is eight years older than me, at the time we were 41 and 33. I had no issue whatsoever. I always envisioned myself in the long-term relationship with a man a few years older. But Boomer, wow, it was on his mind. Though he never really elaborated why, it just bothered him some how. I remember him saying, "There's a huge age difference between us," "Huge? No way. It's not even a decade, that's not huge at all. I'm more worried about the gossip mill at work than I am our ages." He replied, "I'm not concerned about work, we'll keep this between us while we explore where and how it's going to go." "Are you sure that's possible?" "Yes." I believed him wholeheartedly too, he was a pretty private guy, one who seemed to know how to keep his personal life on the down-low when it came to work. We created common ground. My confidence in our ages not mattering, his on the work issue. This is working well already.
Then the age thing imploded one evening on our way to Ravinia for an outdoor picnic concert. Some song, I've forgotten which one, from the late 70's came on the radio. Boomer was telling me about moving to Chicago shortly after he graduated college, how he remembered hearing the song during his move. "When did you graduate college?" I asked, not knowing I was about to send the poor man into cardiac arrest. "1978," he answered. "Hey, what do you know, I graduated in 1978 too - - 8th grade." The silence was deafening. Boomer's face went completely pale and he had quite a tan going that summer. After a long sixty-seconds he asked, "How old were you?" "14." Boomer tail-spinned in his words, he couldn't get a single word out and clearly just lost his mind. He tried a second time, hoping for another answer, "How old were you?" "14." The voice in my head shouts out, "Quick Shannon, say something to ease the poor man's panic". Amidst my laughter outburst over his reaction, I offered, "I'm not 14 anymore, and it's not illegal now," He was frozen for a bit on the whole thing. I thought it was hilarious, and knew it was now forever a go-to anecdote to get Boomer's goat. Watching him cringe and squirm anytime we engaged in a "where were you when" conversation was ridiculous fun - - though he never really thought so, but played along well anyway.
A year or two later, Boomer pulled out an old scrap book one evening and we found his college graduation picture tucked inside. Now you know I couldn't leave it alone. Dig those crazy pinstripe pants and platform shoes. So stylin'. Don't you just love it? The the next time he was at my house, I showed him my graduation picture. "Boomer, are you OK?"
|SMO & Boomer circa 1978|